Perry v. Louisiana Page 16

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Media for Perry v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 02, 1990 in Perry v. Louisiana

Antonin Scalia:

In the other case, you have someone who's already been convicted of a crime and thereby loses some of his liberties, including physical liberty to move about.

Rene' I. Salomon:

--Absolutely, I mean because the punishment... the whether determination has already been made what his sentence will be.

Many of his rights are greatly diminished, his freedom from confinement.

We know that his freedom from bodily restraint to be physically strapped into that electric chair is reduced as well as his ability to determine his fate.

Antonin Scalia:

Saying, likewise is reduced his ability to turn down beneficial medical treatment.

Rene' I. Salomon:

That's exactly right.

Many of his rights, as I have said, have been limited, and that includes, for example, his right to life and his right to self-determination of sorts.

To honor Mr. Perry's request in this case, that is his refusal of medication and beneficial medical treatment, I might add, would be to be contrary to several valid interests.

First, I think that it's correct to say that the inmate's right to some sort of self-determination has been greatly diminished by the fact that he has been convicted of a capital murder and that he has been sentenced to death.

And I think also that once that right of the State to impose punishment is established, that we recognize in some sort of inferential way that the State is the entity that chooses what a punishment shall be.

And if we in this case honor Mr. Perry's right to refuse medical treatment as indicated in the record, then I think we give, in a way, to Perry the opportunity to choose his punishment.

John Paul Stevens:

Let me just interrupt, if I may.

Rene' I. Salomon:

Fine.

John Paul Stevens:

You seem to make a point earlier that it was relevant that this treatment was beneficial to him.

What if it wasn't beneficial?

You'd have the same State interest in carrying out the punishment.

Rene' I. Salomon:

Right.

But I still think that that interest would not be, then, legitimate, possibly under a Turner v. Safley analysis, or potentially it could walk into the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

John Paul Stevens:

I can understand your argument if you don't rely on the benefit.

But it's a rather strange sort of benefit to say the benefit is you may now be executed.

Rene' I. Salomon:

Well, but there are medical benefits.

John Paul Stevens:

He's not particularly interested in those when he is weighing the various alternatives.

[Laughter]

Rene' I. Salomon:

I understand that.

But there are other rights that he has.

For instance, this freedom from confinement and these other steps like medicating him to establish the competency to go to trial, which are basically steps on the road to execution which are not beneficial to him--

John Paul Stevens:

I know medication to go to trial, Justice Scalia has already demonstrated, that's a harder case than this one.

Rene' I. Salomon:

--Correct.

John Paul Stevens:

You're relying on one that hasn't been decided yet, at least by this Court.

Rene' I. Salomon:

That's true, but I still say that even though the State might have an interest in seeing its penalty satisfied, that a Turner v. Safley analysis says that you have to have a legitimate penalogical interest.